What Tools I Use for My Personal KMS

Feel free to steal my secret sauce, or in this case, tools

I previously talked about creating a Knowledge Management System or a KMS which is about creating a system that manages all of the knowledge we consume every day in an orderly way.

To recap, a KMS has three modes — Data CaptureData Workspace, and Reference. Data Capture is used to capture info that you encounter as you go along your day. Data Workspace is for filtering and managing the captured info, whether it’s actionable or not. References are for safekeeping info for later lookup.

You will need these three in tandem to make your KMS sustainable. However, these can be implemented independently if you choose to do so. Also, these are tech-agnostic, meaning you can use any method to implement them.

Tools I Use to Implement My KMS

To summarize, I use these tools to implement my KMS. I’ll delve into the whys for each in the following sections as I overlap tools between the different sections:

  • Dynalist
  • Workflowy
  • Google Calendar
  • Notion / Google Sheets
  • Obsidian
  • Google Photos
  • Analogs — Notebooks, Phone Alarms

Tools for Data Capture

For Data Capture, I use Dynalist. I like how the workflow is simple enough as it revolves around making bullet lists. It has an offline feature that makes taking notes easy even without a data connection.

My “Brain Dump” list is essentially the centerpiece of this. Anything that comes to mind at any time I put it here. Then at the end of the day, as I do my daily review, I unload what I put into this list into my KMS Data Workspace for clarification. Afterward, I simply purge the list for use the next day.

I used Google Keep before in place of this, but eventually, I was won over by the simplicity and the fact that I can copy any list in here and it will paste into my other apps due to Markdown support.

Another benefit I’m seeing with Dynalist is the web browser compatibility, meaning you don’t need to install the Dynalist app on your PC or Mac to be able to use it.

Tools for Data Workspace

For Data Workspace, I use a combination of different tools depending on the actionable info I need to put the clarified data into. As a recap, you need to sort the info into three major buckets — do, delegate, and defer.

“Do” means doing the task promptly. “Delegate” means passing the task to another person and waiting for them to finish it. “Defer” means to put the task on hold and take note of it (via a to-do list), schedule it, or put it into a Project.

Workflowy for Projects

For Projects or groups of ideas or actions related to one another that pertain to a personal goal, I use Workflowy as my tool of choice.

The app is similar to Dynalist where you utilize bullet lists, but in this case, the workflow is I feel very conducive to nesting iteratively. You’ll know what I mean once you try it. You can isolate different bullet points as their own “space” and bookmark them as units.

As Dynalist and Workflowy came from the same dev team, switching notes between each other is easy due to the same Markdown support. Workflowy also has an offline function and web browser compatibility.

Google Calendar for Scheduled Tasks

I use Google Calendar as it’s the simplest free method to track scheduled tasks. I’ve detailed in a previous post how I use calendars.

You use calendars to track scheduled tasks, as well as events and appointments. Creating recurring tasks is also easy, and you can share your calendars with other people with a Google Account.

Sometimes I also need to use my phone alarm to remind me of certain repeated tasks on top of the calendar.

Dynalist for To-Dos, Waiting For Lists

This is intentional. I use Dynalist for my “To Do”, “Next Action” and “Waiting For” lists because it is the most accessible of my apps. I put the “Brain Dump” list first in my sidebar, and then the next lists under it are those above.

Tools for References / Archives

My tool for choice in handling References is Obsidian. I used this because of the Markdown format (shared across my other apps) and how conducive it is to linking and referring to different notes.

Another feature I really like is the “graph view” which shows the mindmap of your notes linked together via hashtags.

One downside though is there is no web browser compatibility. You must install the app on your PC/Mac and phone. Synching between different folders (or “vaults”) is also trickier since you’ll need to use a 3rd party cloud storage (examples are Google Drive or Dropbox) unless you pay for the native sync feature.

As a recap, References have 5 types:

  • Discrete Ideas
  • Lists for Lookup
  • Trackers
  • Formal Notes
  • Archives

I use Obsidian to manage 3 of the 5 types, i.e., Discrete Ideas, Formal Notes, and Archives.

For Formal Notes, I usually have this written in a notebook or notepad first (ex., from a workshop or a book), then summarize it before putting it into Obsidian.

Dynalist for “Lists for Lookup”

Dynalist is my main app of choice as it is the fastest. So I use this for lists that I need to look up quickly, like “Medicines to Buy”, “Gov ID Nos” or “Meal Plan Choices”.

Notion or Google Sheets for Trackers

I’ve described how I use Notion in a previous post. I find Notion useful in managing databases as it abstracts them and makes them easy to use.

Notion is pretty powerful and can handle all 3 parts of a KMS. But I find it slow and the lack of an offline function discouraged me from doing so. However, I also use Notion as a “static site” of sorts, when I need to share specific pages online. This is useful for sharing cheat sheets, notes, and other content.

Anything that I can’t use with a database, I use Google Sheets to manage.

Google Photos for Soft Copies of Physical References

I usually take screenshots or photos of anything I need to remember, and in Google Photos, I create an album to manage those photos.

Google Photos already has a built-in QR or OCR scanner through Google Lens if I need it.

A few years ago, I was attached to Evernote as their OCR feature was the best. Now Google Photos suffice as I manage all my photos on my Android phone anyway.

Long Terms Goals with My KMS

As I build up my KMS, I have a goal of making my KMS generational. I want to put so many of my ideas into it that my KMS can be used by other users in the future. I plan to keep on building it until I’m old.

Maybe in the future, I can create a GPT that houses all of my data as a source for others.

Meanwhile, I’ll be using my KMS as my engine of insight and power my blogs.

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